Jordan Spieth hot out of gates, fires low one to give himself chance at John Deere Classic

Jordan Spieth caught fire Saturday at the John Deere Classic.

Spieth, a two-time winner of the longstanding event at TPC Deere Run, carded six birdies on his first nine holes on Saturday. Spieth turned in 6 under to climb to 12 under overall, just two shots off the lead shared by C.T. Pan and Aaron Rai, who were set to tee off about an hour after Spieth headed to the back nine.

He cooled off on the back, yet nearly eagled his penultimate hole and shot 8-under 63. At 14 under, he was three shots off the lead when he got into the clubhouse.

“It’s a race,” Spieth said. “It’s prime scoring conditions. We had quite a few front pins in bowls that you really needed to make birdie on. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, is the shot almost seems too easy because we’re not used to it. Luckily, I capitalized on those and made a couple putts.

“It was just a good solid round. No chip-ins, nothing spectacular, no crazy ones here or there.”

After birdieing the par-4 second from 8 feet, Spieth rattled off five straight birdies, at Nos. 4-8. That run included birdies from 14 feet (No. 4), 33 feet (No. 6) and 18 feet (No. 7).

Birdies at Nos. 10 and 12 pushed Spieth into a sub-60 watch, but he then bogeyed the par-4 13th hole, where he had just 109 yards in for his second shot. Spieth proceeded to miss the green with a sand wedge, going long and a little left, and failed to make his 12-foot par save.

“The softness of the greens made it a really bad number,” Spieth explained. “I took a club that could go 15, 20 yards farther than the number and try and take 20 off. Those are just unusual shots, but they’re shots I need to have for the next two weeks as well and shots that you need here. And so instead of kind of playing safe and spinning it back to 20 feet short, I said I get better if I take one more club. If I hit a good shot, great, and I became better. If I didn’t, if I don’t and miss-execute, I stand by my decision.

“That’s what I said when I got over there. I was in jail. I was happy that I chose to hit probably the less safe shot, the more challenging shot, but the one that can get pin high and stay there. Just a bad number and poorly executed chipping wedge.”

Spieth entered this week with just one top-25 in his last 14 starts, a T-10 at the Valero Texas Open in early April. He is also currently ranked No. 24 in U.S. President Cup points.

Spieth’s last win came at the 2022 RBC Heritage.

“Tomorrow, if I can be as solid as I was today and maybe catch a couple extra breaks, it would take something extremely flawless to have a chance,” Spieth said, “but I’ll try and do what I did today.”

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